As one of the many creative entrepreneurs in Madison, we find ourselves often crossing paths with like-minded people, pursuing their own dreams in this fabulous town. One such talented woman I’ve gotten to know better recently is Sarah Van Dyke, the founder and owner of Revel – a brand new craft bar downtown, built to inspire, create, and celebrate.
I first learned about Revel while I was still working at Madison Children’s Museum, which is just across the street from their space. Since it’s opened I’ve attended workshops and networking events in the space, and am especially a big fan of their monthly downtown workdays (which include treats!). Recently, I asked Sarah to share a little bit about the history and brainstorm behind the operation, and have shared our conversation here:
Where did the idea of Revel come from?
SVD: Madison has such a vibrant downtown with tons of amazing restaurants and retail shops – and I wanted to add to that with a more ‘experiential’ business. The initial idea was to create a bright, happy, social space where people could come to connect with friends, escape the stress of everyday life, and enjoy a fun new experience.
Incorporating DIY projects was natural since that is something that has brought me enjoyment (and stress relief!) over the years. I think there’s so much fun and satisfaction that comes from finishing a project from start to finish – (especially in this age where we spend all day staring at our never-ending email inbox) – and Revel makes it easy and affordable for anyone to do that!
And let’s be honest… who DOESN’T want a space to host pretty parties in? That may have been some of my motivation too 😉
What do you think people like best about your business?
SVD: We get many compliments on both the physical aspects of our space, but also how welcomed and comfortable people feel when they visit us. I spent many years working in the hospitality industry and it’s so important to me that each guest who comes through our doors has a fun and carefree experience!
I think people also appreciate that we have something for everyone. We offer a wide range of projects that are appealing to a variety of aesthetics, budgets, etc. We also strive to offer customization options for each – so a guest isn’t walking out of Revel with the exact same thing everyone else is.
What have you learned since opening Revel?
SVD: Yikes. SO MUCH! Running a brick-and-mortar operation that’s open 6 days/week and with a constantly changing schedule/menu is both exhilarating and challenging. A few things I’m continuing to learn and work on are:
- Flexibility – as a new business we’re constantly adjusting and making tweaks to our offerings, space, workflows, etc. to fix problems as they arise, improve the customer experience, and make operations run more smoothly. That requires flexibility from my entire team!
- Delegation – I’m a bit of a control freak, but I know that for Revel to be sustainable, I can’t do everything myself. Fortunately, I have an amazing team – so I’m learning to take advantage of their skills and am getting better about delegating to them!
What crafts or workshops have been most popular so far?
SVD: For the drop-in Craft Bar, string art (particularly the Wisconsin design) has been a favorite. I think people like making a customized piece that they can display in their home…and getting to let out stress by hammering nails doesn’t hurt either! J For our workshops, beer/wine glass etching, iPhone photography, and gold leaf paintings have gotten a great response.
If any readers have ideas for projects they’d like to see on our Craft Bar menu or as workshops, we’d love to hear them!
What goals do you have for the future?
We have so many fun things in store for 2017! In addition to keeping our Craft Bar and event offerings fresh and new, we’ll be rolling out a customer loyalty program to thank and reward our frequent guests. Other goals include hosting more parties and incorporating a few more “dude DIYs” and date night offerings into our menu. We had a great response for our holiday pop-up shops and the DIY kits we had for sale this season so will also be exploring the feasibility of a more consistent retail offering in our space.
Give an overview of how private events work – how and when can they happen, capacity, what do people usually do? Most popular types?
Our drop-in Craft Bar is currently open 6 days/week, so many smaller groups (~10 or fewer people) take advantage of that and just make a reservation to come in for a #drinkandDIY.
Larger groups can choose to do projects off our Craft Bar menu too, though they can also book a private instructor-led workshop or just use our space to enjoy food/drink and their guests’ company.
We offer both fully private and semi-private bookings and can make an event special and affordable regardless of the size of the group (though our max capacity is around 50 guests).
Some events that we’ve had booked here in our first six months include:
- Birthday celebrations
- Corporate team building/retreats
- Bachelorette parties/bridal showers
- Baby showers
- Networking group happy hours/socials
- Holiday parties
If anyone has questions about private events or is interested in discussing cost/availability, they can email me at email@example.com!
Revel is located at 107 N. Hamilton Street, just off the capitol square, and open six days a week (mostly evenings and weekends). In addition to the DIY craft bar, they have an actual bar in the space as well to enjoy cocktails and snacks while crafting! Check out their schedule here to see the many different events going on and learn more about this great spot!